Bypass your mind. Not your genes.

Fiction has been a vital part in the history of human beings. It helped pave way to understanding, communication and cooperation between large sets of individuals, often with contradictory belief systems. Storytelling has been an important ally in bringing people together for various purposes and this imagined reality, enabled large-scale human cooperation based on myths and fantasies.

This cooperation could be altered, by changing those facts and myths – which is what happened over the centuries. For instance, in 1789, the French population who initially believed in the myth of divinity in a king’s rule, changed almost instantaneously to believing in self-ruling capacities of it’s people. This was brought about by the changes in myths, by changes in stories.

As science proved, under many circumstances, behavioural studies to have shown that ideology and behaviours of a certain species are determined by their genetic nature. True, animal behaviour is based on individuals and the environment, but animals of the same species, who have much in common at a genetic level, tend to behave in very similar ways. Elephants follow the matriarch system, where the oldest and the largest female leads the herd. Common chimpanzees tend to live in hierarchial groups led by the alpha male. These are species oriented differences, that relate to their behaviors based on genetics and significant changes in social nature or behaviour cannot occur without genetic mutations or alterations. The individuals in any herd or pack cannot, one day, come together to rebel against their way of life, just for the heck of it. Their communication, though highly defined, is not at a level of individuality, free will and choice based decision making. Such dramatic changes may occur only if there are genetic differences in the DNA.

For similar reasons, prehistoric humans, Homo sapiens, did not wage war against their leaders or form a rebellion. These changes in social patterns, advancements in tools and technology, among other things, resulted from environmental pressures – natural selection and genetic mutations. This is the reason, it took humans, thousands of years to adapt to newer beliefs and take steps towards a different path of life. The stone tool technology of the Homo erectus was characteristic to the species and it had stayed that way for about a million years without change, until genetic mutations interfered. Homo sapiens, however, can alter these behaviours in a matter of decades, owing to the cognitive revolution that enabled them to transform their social structures, interpersonal relationships and mass belief systems as fast as the cultural pressures needed them to.

Cognitive revolution of the Homo sapiens has consequently led revisions of behaviour in the species, on par with the changing societal needs. Cultural evolution was the result of this fast paced change, that may have been altered by genetic evolution. “Sapiens”, a book by Yuval Noah Harari, has a section “bypassing the genome” outlining the very concept.

Let us assume the Homo sapiens are the victors of the genome game. In this current day and age, where large masses of people are killing others, plotting to kill others, where different sectors of the world are divided by these numerous cultures, races and economic stature, where the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, no matter the change in governments. Looking back at our ancestors now, with all the knowledge of our beliefs and science, did we really bypass our genetics? Or have been playing the game of natural selection all these centuries, albeit with changed contexts and regulations, to favor the few governing bodies of our societies?

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